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Eight more years of wisecracks

The pressure was on. For eight long years I had lived with the embarrassment. No one's fault, I had brought this upon myself, and I was willing to take the full responsibility.

"Let's have you step right down this way," the nice young gentleman said as he smiled and pointed the way to personal redemption. I took a deep breath, going over in my mind what I had rehearsed in the mirror. I whipped off my hat, sat down, looked straight ahead — and poof the flash went off as I simultaneously blinked. No! ... Wait! ... I need a do-over!

"This is your temporary license, the permanent one will arrive in two weeks," the lad said.

"No, really, can I take that over again?" I asked.

The young man smiled again and replied, "It looks OK."

I looked at my temporary license as he slid it under the Plexiglas shield, and once again I had failed. Choked. Crumbled under the pressure. Dropped the ball.

What is it about driver's license photos that I can't get right? We send NFL defensive linemen to space, but I can't look into a camera, smile pleasantly and look business casual.

Since 2013 I had been living with the shame and snickers as people had looked at my photo. A bug-eyed, drunken look of surprise would peer back at them. They would glance at the photo, look up at me, glance back and then hand it back almost apologetically.

"I guess that's you?" some said, while suppressing chortles. I had long ago stopped trying to explain, and sometimes I would try to look at them with the same crazy uncle stare that was on the ID.

As it was, I was not thrilled when I heard I needed to make an appointment to go to the DMV to renew my license. COVID has changed the procedures to renew, and in many ways, it is supposed to be simpler. No test, a few questions answered online, and you can go another eight years wondering if it is OK to make a left turn onto a one-way street on a red light.

My 80-year-old mother-in-law breezed through her renewal, but for some reason mine would not go through, and it said I must come down in person to renew. My wife lovingly said it was because I looked suspicious on my old license. "Really? You too? Everyone's a critic!"

She was really amused with herself.

Realistically, they should just replace everyone's photo with a picture of Yoda, since at the age of 64 we all start to look like the Star Wars character anyway. At the very least they should let you supply your own damn photo. I would have a professionally done studio portrait with full make-up under perfect lighting conditions that would make me resemble Vin Diesel or The Rock, rather than Uncle Fester from The Addams Family.

Alas, they don't allow that.

So, for the next eight years or so I get to pull my wallet out and identify myself with a picture that is a hybrid of Clint Eastwood's scowl and Hanna Barbera's Droopy Dog. I basically wound up with a mug shot of a very angry Uncle Fester who had just been arrested for punching Gomez in an Addams Family domestic dispute.

The suffering will continue. Or maybe I should just lose this one and get it right the next time, because everyone loves going down to the DMV more often, and I am sure I can do better next time ... right?

AJ Klott lives in Jacksonville.

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